Friday, August 10, 2007

Team USA and Michael Redd

Team USA will have another training session August 15-20. It will help determine which of the 17 eligible players will make the 12-man roster for the upcoming FIBA Americas Championship.

A group of ten promising young Americans were chosen to help the senior team prepare.

In an earlier post, I made my picks for Team USA’s 12-man roster.

Included in my picks was Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd. He’s a sensible choice to back up Kobe Bryant given the importance of outside shooting in international competitions. His main competition appears to be Memphis Grizzlies guard and fellow sharpshooter Mike Miller. Some have argued Team USA wouldn’t mind bringing along both.

In a recent blog post,’s Dave McMenamin chose Miller over Redd, based on Redd’s relatively poor performance in practice.

An excerpt of McMenamin’s response to a question regarding the Miller/Redd issue:
“The reason I went with Miller over Redd had very little to do with the intrasquad scrimmage at the end of the mini-camp and a lot to do with how both players performed on Friday and Saturday in practice. On Friday Redd looked out of shape and pulled himself from the fullcourt games to go shoot on a side hoop. Meanwhile, on both days, Miller was not only making shots from deep but finishing when he took it to the tin and showing very active hands on defense."
Sure, the July mini-camp/practice was three months before the start of the regular season. And Redd has the upcoming training session to redeem himself. But seeing the Bucks only star described as out of shape any time is a little disconcerting.

Looking past the FIBA’s, the out-of-shape comment brings up the old debate about whether international duty wears on players the following NBA season. This type of chatter commences whenever someone plays international ball in the summer and hits the slightest of a lull a couple months into the NBA’s regular season.

But is there reason to worry? Let’s examine how last summer’s Team USA followed up their bronze-winning effort:
  • Shane Battier: Played all 82 games, in consistent, Battier-like fashion.
  • Chris Bosh: Had career-year in leading Toronto Raptors to division title. Missed some time in the regular season due to knee injury suffered in a game versus the Chicago Bulls.
  • Elton Brand: Appeared in 80 very strong games. Proved this summer that offseason injuries happen in simple, daily workouts sometimes.
  • Kirk Hinrich: Also played 80 of 82 regular season games. Posted career-highs in points per game (16.6), field goal percentage (.448), three-point percentage (.415), and free-throw percentage (.835).
  • Dwight Howard: Played all 82 games. Stepped up with career-year.
  • LeBron James: Played 78 amazing regular season games... And had enough left over in the tank to play 20 more in the playoffs, including a dominant performance or two.
  • Antawn Jamison: Had another very good year, appearing in 70 games. Carried an overmatched and depleted Washington Wizards team admirably in the playoffs.
  • Joe Johnson: Started the season in strong fashion, averaging 27.8 point per game in the first month. Missed time toward the end of the season due to calf strain suffered March 5 versus the Miami Heat.
  • Brad Miller: Never the model of perfect health, Miller did play 63 games for the Sacramento Kings. Had a down year for his standards, but is on the way down in general.
  • Chris Paul: He missed time due to a severely sprained ankle. Still, he played 64 games in an impressive sophomore campaign.
  • Dwyane Wade: When healthy he was one of the league's brightest. But he played only 51 games thanks to shoulder and knee surgery. Came back for playoffs.

In all, that recapping-exercise doesn’t lend much support to the idea that playing international basketball in the summer before an NBA season produces adverse results.

I’d love to see Redd represent Team USA this summer. Helping restore some basketball glory to his country could give him the positive energy to jumpstart his season with the Bucks. If the likes of Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant aren’t too worried about playing, there shouldn’t be much of a problem. And the benefits of playing competitive games with such a great team outweigh the worry that he’ll suffer from playing a little too much offseason basketball.

Furthermore, I stand by my choice that Redd should make the team.

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